VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Just four weeks into the school year, there have been four reports of sexual assaults on the University of South Dakota campus.
It’s a message no student wants to receive in their inbox, but it may also be a sign that victims are feeling more comfortable making a report.
The beginning of college is supposed to be an exciting time for freshmen, however with news of sexual assaults, that hasn’t been the case for everyone.
“It makes me feel uneasy, because it’s like, could I be the next one? Because you just don’t know when you go around campus what someone might do,” said Freshman Natalie Wagner.
However, police say the number of reports isn’t unusual.
“So I think it’s at the beginning of every school year, kind of from August to October we get a lot of reports of sexual assaults. I think a lot of it has to do with people coming to college for the first time,” said Vermillion Chief of Police Crystal Brady.
No matter the numbers, USD’s Police Chief says it’s important for victims to feel comfortable making a report.
“We start by believing our victims, and ensuring they have the resources necessary to move forward. Sometimes that involves a criminal investigation, sometimes through the Title IX process, and in other cases it might just involve counseling or legal or other resources that we provide as an institution,” said USD Chief of Police Bryant Jackson.
To prevent sexual assaults, the university requires students to do a training.
“When we did our training online, it said that most of the time it’s by someone they know, like an acquaintance, and every time it’s been someone they know. That’s really been unnerving to hear about, especially because I’ve been meeting so many new people, you just don’t know what people’s intentions are,” said Wagner.
“Just last night we had a presentation called ‘Zero Shades of Grey’ and so that’s a presentation on consent, and we had over 1,200 students in attendance,” said Jackson.
The trainings and conversations are making a difference.
“With more reports, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have more sexual assaults happening, it’s just more people are feeling comfortable coming forward and reporting them,” said Brady.